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Senate Panel Unveils Draft Energy Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Senate Energy Committee released parts of a draft energy bill Friday that would bump up the nation's emergency oil stockpile, protect the power grid from blackouts and offer tax credits to companies that use wind or solar power to generate electricity, Reuters reported.

Issues such as incentives to increase domestic oil drilling and whether states can allow offshore drilling for natural gas in current restricted areas have yet to be worked out, committee aides said.

Last month, the House of Representatives approved its version of energy legislation, while Republican and Democratic members of the Senate Energy Committee have met privately for months to draft the bill. President George W. Bush urged Congress Friday to send him a final energy package by Aug. 1.

“To make sure this economy continues to grow and the entrepreneurial spirit is strong, our country needs to have access to affordable, reliable and a secure supply of energy,” Bush said in a speech to the National Association of Realtors.

On Friday, the panel released part of its energy legislation involving coal, electricity, hydrogen and certain nuclear power issues that are generally agreed upon.

The full committee will meet this week and expects to finish writing the bill during the week of May 23, aiming to send a bill to the Senate floor for a vote in late June.

"We have worked through a major number of issues," said Alex Flint, the panel's senior Republican energy adviser.

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